As rudeness becomes more commonplace in society, so have children. You may have noticed this in your household, too. You’ll encounter impolite children and adults no matter where you live. A recent study by Solitared found that San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York City rank as the top three U.S. cities with the rudest children.
Teenagers scored as the rudest group among minors, and 49 percent of respondents reported children being the most rude to their parents. The rudest behaviors among children included cursing, indulging in their phones, or playing videos/music too loud. The study had some positive outcomes, with San Antonio, Portland, and Nashville ranking as the top three cities with the kindest children. So how can you raise your teens and children to be well-mannered, polite society members? Here are some ideas.
Set clear expectations.
Your kids won’t know what to expect unless you tell them. Still, too often, parents muddy the waters with too much gunk, missing the central message. Be sweet and short with your expectations. For example, when going on a playdate, remind them to address their friend’s mother as Mrs. Smith.
Practice polite behavior in public.
Getting your children to behave at church, in a store, a restaurant, or at the park takes time, so try doing dry runs at home. Doing this with your kids will help them learn what to expect and be able to remember it when they’re out of the house.
Let them make mistakes.
Children won’t do things perfectly, so expecting some messiness as they learn how to be polite is normal. This will help you keep your cool when they aren’t well-mannered. Remember, your child can do something genuinely despicable on any given day due to their sinful nature.
Some people have decided that manners aren’t essential, but that’s not the case. Manners matter because they give guidelines for politeness. When you don’t teach your children basic manners, like holding the door for those behind them, waiting in line at the store, or eating with their mouths closed, we’re essentially saying you’re the only one that matters.
How to deal with rude behavior.
Every parent wants their children to behave, but since no child is perfect, parents will encounter rudeness in their teens or kids on any given day. Consider the context when your teen or child snaps something rude to you. Ask why; perhaps your child is having a bad day. Are they upset about doing poorly on a test or losing a game? This doesn’t give them an excuse to be rude, but it does help you know whether to respond to the rudeness immediately or step back and give your kids space to process the angst before discussing what was said.
Next, try giving your child space, which goes along with considering the context. Typically, rudeness results from a child acting out because of something unrelated to the person in front of them. Parents should be willing to let their child calm down before discussing the rudeness because if you jump in right away, you’ll only make the issue worse or make a mountain out of a molehill. By stepping back from your child, you let them come to terms with what they said, which often leads to them apologizing for the rude behavior without your request.
Next, remember that your voice tone is subjective. Yes, sometimes your kids know precisely how they sound when they say “whatever.” Sometimes, your youngest kids have perfected that whininess that drives you up the wall. However, the tone of voice is often in the listener’s ear. Parents should be more charitable when hearing something they think is rude, and the child had no intention of being rude, but that doesn’t mean you let it slide. Instead, it would be best if you had a gentle conversation where you said that phrase sounds rude to you and while you know their intention wasn’t to be rude, you would love it if they didn’t use that phrase when talking to you.
You could also let grace guide you. Parents could do more to extend grace to their children when their mouths run away with them. Correction is necessary, but you should be kind in how you do so and recognize that sometimes, even parents are rude to others. Sometimes, parents are impolite to their children. Therefore, you should apologize without qualification. When parents are rude to their kids, spouse, or the store clerk who messed up their order, you should own it, apologize, and try to do better next time. Set the example by working through your tendency to be rude. You could also discuss rudeness with other children.
This could be a kid at the playground, a neighborhood playmate, or your child’s friend.As a parent, you don’t have to deal with it, but you should address it kindly and gently. For example, some adults consider it rude when anyone under 18 calls an adult by their first name. When a child calls you by your first name, you simply ask them to call you Mrs. or Mr. instead. When a child says something rude to you, meet their gaze and ask that they not speak to you in that way in a firm yet conversational tone. Most children respond well to an authoritative adult who says exactly what they mean without drama or fluff.
Ultimately, respect should be mutual. Parents should respect their children and expect it in return. You can recognize that your child is upset because the cereal box tipped over and all the Cheerios are on the floor, and that will make it easier for your child to understand that, even though you can comfort and help them find the broom, you’re not available to sop up their negativity and rage. Like the Golden Rule, respect means treating others how you want to be treated. With that in mind, hopefully, these tips will help you raise children who will make the world a more respectful and kinder place.